Greenhorn American decides on a whim to move to Argentina and learn to tango.
In 2000, just out of college, Winter packed up and headed to Buenos Aires to see what might happen. Little did at first, since he knew practically nobody in the city, his Texan Spanish was rusty and the country was in the middle of a calamitous economic meltdown that made it nearly impossible to find work. Eager for friends, Winter fell in with a handy cabal of argumentative tango aficionados, or milongueros, eager to school him in the art of seduction, dance, life, Argentina or anything else that crossed their minds. At first, Winter found the dance tough going: “Given the anarchic syncopations of the tango, with its wailing violins and unconventional ¾ time, I never stood a chance.” He eventually got the hang of it, and fell breathlessly in love with a female instructor. But Winter offers no gauzy paean to a stock notion of romantic Latin life. Instead, he provides a well-considered look into the Argentinean soul by an outsider who maintains the proper distance while remaining entranced. Winter is endlessly fascinated by the contradictions of a people so elegant and yet so crude, who seem so arrogant and yet continually display the national insecurity complex. His Argentina is a maddening, utterly beguiling place. Though Winter likens loving the nation during some of the worst years in its always-stormy history to “falling for an alcoholic at the very moment she hits rock bottom,” there will be no shortage of readers putting his book down and hopping the next flight to Buenos Aires.
An elegant, caustic travelogue sparkling with insight.